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Drop everything and watch this presentation from the 2017 Code4Lib conference that took place in Los Angeles March 6-9, 2017. Heck, watch the entire proceedings because there is a bunch of interesting and thoughtful stuff going on in the world of libraries and technology! But in particular, check out Matt Zumwalt’s presentation “How the distributed web could bring a new Golden Age for Libraries” — after submitting his talk, he changed the new title to “Storing data together: the movement to decentralize data and how libraries can lead it” because of the DataRefuge movement.
Zumwalt (aka @FLyingZumwalt on twitter), works at Protocol Labs, one of the primary developers of IPFS, the Interplanetary File System (IPFS) — grok their tagline “HTTP is obsolete. It’s time for the distributed, permanent web!” He has spent much of his spare time over the last 9 months working with groups like EDGI, DataRefuge, and the Internet Archive to help preserve government datasets.
Here’s what Matt said in a nutshell: The Web is precarious. But using peer-to-peer distributed network architecture, we can “store data together”, we can collaboratively preserve and serve out government data. This resonates with me as an FDLP librarian. What if a network of FDLP libraries actually took this on? This isn’t some far-fetched, scifi idea. The technologies and infrastructures are already there. Over the last 9 months, researchers, faculty and public citizens around the country have already gotten on board with this idea. Libraries just have to get together and agree that it’s a good thing to collect/download, store, describe and serve out government information. Together we can do this!
Matt’s talk starts at 3:07:41 of the YouTube video below. Please watch it, let his ideas sink in, share it, start talking about it with your colleagues and administrators in your library, and get moving. Government information could be the great test case for the distributed web and a new Golden Age for Libraries!
This presentation will show how the worldwide surge of work on distributed technologies like the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) opens the door to a flourishing of community-oriented librarianship in the digital age. The centralized internet, and the rise of cloud services, has forced libraries to act as information silos that compete with other silos to be the place where content and metadata get stored. We will look at how decentralized technologies allow libraries to break this pattern and resume their missions of providing discovery, access and preservation services on top of content that exists in multiple places.
Today’s lunchtime listen is FGI’s first podcast(!), a conversation recorded on July 25, 2016, with James A. Jacobs, James R. Jacobs, and Shari Laster discussing “Building a Collaborative FDLP.” If you missed that post, here’s an excerpt:
FDLP libraries can work together to provide, collectively, more than GPO — or any one library — can provide on its own. A collaborative FDLP is not one mega-library with one huge collection of only those documents that GPO can get. A collaborative FDLP consists of many curated collections that include Title 44 content, fugitive content (which GPO cannot force agencies to deposit), and non-Title-44 content that is out of GPO’s scope (e.g., FOIA’d documents, state/local/international government information, non-government information etc.). And each curated collection will have accompanying services tailored to that content for a community of users.
In such a collective approach, every community has access to the content and services it needs and every library provides a small slice of all those customized collections and services. In this approach, each library’s local-institutional community benefits from the contributions of every library.
This approach requires libraries to make one big change in the way they think of “communities.” In this approach, a “community” is a group of people who have common information needs — they need not live and work near any particular library or even near each other. In this approach every library focuses on one or more Designated Communities.1 In this approach every institution benefits from the collective work of all FDLP libraries rather than the individual work of only its own local-institutional library.
This approach will result in an FDLP collection that is more complete than GPO can build and maintain on its own and more comprehensive than Title 44; it will have much better functionality, and it will be more secure for the long-term.
Do you have ideas for more conversations and podcasts you’d like to hear? Please share your feedback in the comments!
Do you love government acronyms? Come on, you know you do. Check out episode 4 of the DoE’s Direct Current podcast. In this episode, they interview our colleague Kelly Smith from UC San Diego about her labor of love, the GovSpeak guide, which tracks and explains more than 3,800 acronyms ranging from the familiar to the downright bizarre. And don’t forget to go over to the DoE site and subscribe to Direct Current podcast.
At the University of California-San Diego Library, Kelly Smith wrangles the largest searchable catalog of U.S. government acronyms on the web. After you’ve listened to this episode, head over to the GovSpeak guide and browse through an alphabet soup of more than 3,800 acronyms ranging from the familiar to the downright bizarre.
Here’s a good mnemonic device, brought to you by RadioLab, for remembering all of our current US Supreme Court Justices — Kagan, Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, and maybe Garland! But before you listen to the snappy song, listen to this episode from RadioLab (one of my favorite podcasts!) and their new venture called “More Perfect” about the US Supreme Court. You’ll learn a ton about the history of the SCOTUS and get a mnemonic song stuck in your head to boot!
We tend to think of the Supreme Court justices as all-powerful guardians of the constitution, issuing momentous rulings from on high. They seem at once powerful, and unknowable; all lacy collars and black robes.
But they haven’t always been so, you know, supreme. On this episode of More Perfect, we go all the way back to the case that, in a lot of ways, is the beginning of the court we know today.
Lunchtime Listen. Yes, you read that right: Listen to President Obama interview Marilynne Robinson, the author novels “Lila,” “Home,” “Gilead” (winner of the Pulitzer Prize), and “Housekeeping.” The conversation was recorded in in Des Moines, Iowa, on September 14, 2015. You can listen to it via iTunes on the The New York Review of Books podcast “Soundings” or read the text on the NYRB website.
The President: And how do you think you ended up thinking about democracy, writing, faith the way you do? How did that experience of growing up in a pretty small place in Idaho … end up here, Marilynne? What happened? Was it libraries?
Robinson: It was libraries, it was—people are so complicated. It’s like every new person is a completely new roll of the dice, right? .. I followed what was for me the path of least resistance, which meant reading a lot of books and writing, because it came naturally to me….
Robinson: … fear was very much — is on my mind, because I think that the basis of democracy is the willingness to assume well about other people. You have to assume that basically people want to do the right thing. I think that you can look around society and see that basically people do the right thing. But when people begin to make these conspiracy theories and so on, that make it seem as if what is apparently good is in fact sinister, they never accept the argument that is made for a position that they don’t agree with—you know?
The President: Yes.